During the year 2023 the tensions between Western world, Russia, North Korea and China have escalated. The political relations to the Islamic world have not become better. This is causing increasing amounts of discrimination and persecution against Evangelicals in countries like Pakistan, Nigeria, Iran, China and Russia, even though a clear majority of Christians has a desire to become bridge builders between different political and religious blocks and alliances.
According to Pentecostal Commission on Religious Liberty (PCRL) there are at least 140 countries, which are not filling the conditions of the Human rights declaration of UN, even though they have undersigned it. PCRL has recognized an increasing number of cases in India, where the Hindu party has passed strong laws against proselytism. The situation for Christians in North Korea may also have become worse according to the increasing amounts of refugees to neighboring countries.
It also looks like the danger to work against undemocratic authorities is decreasing the willingness of volunteers to help the persecuted. Fewer are ready to risk their security by supporting believers, who pay a price for their faith, because it has become a dangerous business. This emphasizes the importance of intersession and support more than ever before. The situation for Pentecostal believers in many countries are extremely challenging, therefore we need to act – now.
Churches under threat in Africa
Many Islamist organizations like Isis and Al-Qaida have an increasing interest to the African continent. The war against Christians is escalating in areas, where the Gospel has reached new believers. Submission, discrimination, and violence have become a daily part in Christian life on the continent.
The war of conquest from the North African side against Christians in the south are painting a zone of tensions and conflicts, which are crossing the whole continent from west to east as a front line. The followers of Jesus living in this area are suffering the most of jihad – the Islamic holy war. Only during last year over 7500 Christians were killed in Nigeria according to Voice of Martyrs. In the city of Butembo in Kongo-Kinshasa tenths of Christians were killed in attacks by Islamic terrorists during this year. Tens of churches were closed and destroyed. The situation is very challenging also in for Pentecostals also in Burkina Faso, Sudan, Eritrea and Mozambique.
- Pray for the suffering Christians in the war zones between the Islamic and nominal Christian countries, so that they could stay strong, become peace makers and bridge builders between different tribes, especially in the countries mentioned above.
- Pray for Communio Messianica, the network for Muslim Background Believers (MBB`s). It has become a platform for Christians in Middle East and North Africa and in several other places, defending the rights of MBB`s.
- Pray for Christians in Eritrea and in some areas in Ethiopia, where huge amounts of Pentecostals are suffering. Pray for the releasement of Pentecostal leaders in Eritrea, so that they could serve the Lord in freedom.
- Pray for Christian children in Egypt, who experience challenges in schools, because of their faith
Persecuted in Asia
Pakistan, China and Afghanistan are the countries in Asia, where the suffering Church has received the most of attention. In China the focus has been on churches, which have not been ready to register their work under the Tre-self-movement and accept state control. Since 2021 religious leaders need to have authorization from the government for financial and religious activities.
Trials against pastors for criminal financial activities have increased. The accusations have usually been linked up with offerings of money in underground house churches. Cases are known from Chengdu and Shangxi, where pastors have received imprisonments from 3 up to 9 years. Through the punishments authorities try to press the house churches to register their churches and open them for control of members, content of preachings etc.
The persecutions in Asia are however not always controlled by the authorities. On 16th of August an attack against Christians was organized in Jaranwala in Pakistan by local people. They caused panic among the believers, when 25 church buildings were destroyed. Bibles were burned down as well as 91 homes of Christian members.
In Islamic states political and religious leaders work together in persecuting and reducing the possibilities for churches as has happened in Afghanistan. PCRL reports that all the official Christian organizations and churches have been closed down in the country.
- Pray for the Christians in Pakistan, who have lost their homes and churches, so that they can get the needed help and not lose their hope for future
- Pray for the pastors in China and Vietnam, who have been put in prison
- Pray that the authorities in North Korea and Afghanistan may open up the country for the Gospel
New challenges of Christian faith in Eurasia
The Russian aggression in East Ukraine has caused many problems for Evangelical Christians. Local sources estimates that 70 Pentecostal churches have been destroyed, closed, or confiscated during war time. This has forced the believers to gather outside, in homes or basements. Many pastors of Evangelical churches have been killed and tortured, if they have not been ready to cooperate with the new authorities. There are also many cases of emigration from Ukraine and deportations to Russia.
In Russia the threats to Evangelicals have increased. Some are assumed to cooperate with West even though, they have had a desire to be neutral in the conflict. In the capital of Belarus one of the Pentecostal churches has been closed. It is very clear the “cancel culture” are becoming stronger in the European part of Eurasia, because it is criminal to talk against the war, or demonstrate opinions for peace.
Kazakstan, Kirgizstan and Uzbekistan have not made statements for the Russian aggression in Ukraine. At the same time a slowly development of democratization has become visible, especially in Uzbekistan, where Pentecostal churches have been able to register their work for the first time after 20 years of active prayers.
- Pray that the Evangelical Christians may continue their work in occupied regions of Ukraine
- Pray for the Christians under threat in Russia and Belarus and for the men, who are sent against their own will to the front
- Thank Lord for the positive development in Uzbekistan and parts of Kirgizstan. Pray that the freedom for Christians can increase in future and be spread out to the neighboring countries
Pentecostal Commission on Religious Liberty